Mumbai: Veteran Australian all-rounder Lisa Sthalekar, who retired from international cricket after her team won a sixth World Cup title in Mumbai, yesterday said there could not have been a better place to call it quits than India — the country where she was born.
"I made my debut in England where my mother was born and I am ending my career in India where I was born and my father was born. It's got a nice symmetry to it, isn't it," Sthalekar told PTI in Mumbai.
"I don't think I could have written it any better. To be part of a winning World Cup campaign, to take a couple of wickets and to take the catch at the end, was really special. That moment I will never forget," she added.
The 33-year-old claimed two for 20 and also took a catch in Australia's impressive 114-run win over the West Indies in the summit clash, on Sunday.
The Pune-born player said she had decided to call it quits before coming to the tournament but had guarded the information from her teammates.
"I had already planned it before coming into this series. I hadn't told anyone. Obviously I told my family and some close friends and my friends actually came over to celebrate my last tour together, which was nice.
"It is always emotional. Its been a massive part of my life. Since I was 10, I have played cricket every summer so that's 20 odd years. Its going to be strange not playing and not training but I think I am going to enjoy the extra free time that I have," she said.
"I guess for me, I think the World Cup is very special and they don't come around very often. I think it was time to go in a sense that I had achieved that I wanted to. I was only going to stay in the game if I was motivated enough to put in the time an effort that is required to represent at this level. I think I have come to the end of that," she added. Sthalekar said the elation of a sixth World Cup triumph is yet to sink in.
"It was what I wanted to do. I hoped that we would get to the final and raise the trophy and it's probably going to take next few days for it to really sink in." Part of the 2005 World Cup winning team, Sthalekar said this unit was completely different from what it was back then.
"It's a completely different team. In 2005 I was fortunate enough to be part of team that had some real legends of the game. This team, it's nice to have (players) at the start of their career.
"I am going to sit back and watch the group of these young girls take the game to the next level. The future legends of the game and to have played alongside them is quite special," she said.
Sthalekar made her international debut in 2001 and played eight Tests, 125 ODIs and 54 T20 International matches.
In her career spanning close to 12 years, she amassed 416 Test runs, 2728 ODI runs and 769 T20 runs and has two World Cups under her belt.
Sthalekar was also the first woman to score 1000 runs and take 100 wickets in ODIs.
Her bowling statistics are equally impressive, having claimed 23 wickets in Tests, 146 in ODIs and 60 in T20s.
Sthalekar is currently ranked number one T20 all-rounder and bowler in the world and holds the number two ranking for ODI all-rounders and bowlers.
Asked if she would have liked to play the one-Test Ashes series, Sthalekar said, "I think I have been fortunate to be a part of a number of Ashes campaign. Been fortunate to win the Ashes when we regained it a couple of years ago...So there was no point continuing it on for the sake of a Test match. I have played a number of them and I have been thankful for those opportunities."
Impressed with the talent she saw in the World Cup, Sthalekar said she is happy that she doesn't have to face West Indian power player Deandra Dottin ever again.
"The great thing about this World Cup was that each team had a player that were destructive in their own right. Which shows there is some good depth across the world.
"The West Indian whom we played in the final, they have some amazing players. Stafanie Taylor obviously didn't showcase all of her skills last night, thankfully," she said.
"But Deandra Dottin, she is going to have a bright future. She is an amazing cricketer and I am really glad that I don't have to bowl to her ever again," Sthalekar, who incidentally dismissed Dottin in the final, added.
On her future plans, Sthalekar said she would love to be associated with women's cricket in some form and give something back to the game.
"I work at Cricket New South Wales and I already hold a coaching role but it is more at the junior level. I think I will definitely stay within the game. The game has given me so much. It is only fair that I give something back.
"I would love to do a bit of coaching, I would love some commentary work, I would love to see women's cricket take off and hopefully be a part of it in some way. "I would love the opportunity to work with the Indian girls. Obviously they are talented. They would have had a disappointing World Cup campaign. I am here to help women's cricket grow not only in my country but globally."